Chinese officials tell Catholics to comply with new religious regulations or face closure of churches

(Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo)Believers take part in a weekend mass at an underground Catholic church in Tianjin November 10, 2013.

Chinese officials have reportedly warned Catholics in Henan against defying the government's revised restrictions on religion if they want to keep their places of worship open.

UCA News reported that the Henan Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the Henan Catholic Administration Commission have issued a joint warning against churchgoers to comply with the revised regulations on religious affairs.

The document reportedly asks parishioners to adhere to "the principle of religion and education separation" and warns them against holding training sessions in religious venues. Additionally, parishioners were told not to bring their children to church.

"It was only propaganda and education previously, but now there is a red line, a high-pressure line, so take it seriously," the notice said, according to UCA News.

The circular further stated that those who are found to be in violation of the rules would be pursued by authorities and their church will be shut down.

On April 1, local officials of the Religious Affairs Bureau of Huiji district have asked minors to leave the Resurrection Sunday Mass at the North Church of Zhengzhou Diocese, according to an unnamed Catholic interviewed by UCA News.

The anonymous source noted that the officials have previously blocked minors from entering the churches in Henan's Shangqiu and Anyang dioceses.

Schools have also issued warnings against bringing minors to religious services. The Ninth Primary School of Linzhou city of Anyang and the First Primary School of Chengguan town of Xingyang city of Chengzhou have sent out an open letter pointing out that the constitution prohibits minors from entering religious venues.

"No one may use religions to disrupt social order, harm citizens or impede the national education system," the letter stated, according to UCA News.

It further stated that religions should not intervene in public education and education because China has enacted the policy of separating education and religion.

"It is an offence for any organizations or individuals to guide, support, permit and condone minors to believe in religions or participate in religious activities," it continued.

In Henan's northern Anyang city, Christians and other religious residents were reportedly told earlier this month to register with the government.

"Residents who are Buddhists, Taoists, Catholics, (other forms of) Christian, and Muslims should register at the Neighborhood Committee located on the third floor of the Golden Vienna Community as soon as possible," a notice dated April 4 stated, as reported by China Aid.

An officer with the Pingyuan Neighborhood Committee stated that religious residents are required to bring their household registration and ID card in order to register.

Some residents have complained that the government is only targeting Christians. An anonymous Christian in the area complained that the government has only banned Catholic and Protestant churches in the past two months, but similar actions have not been applied to other religions.

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